TV & Radio
TV Pick of the week: The Walking Dead returns
Our TV Pick this week is an absolutely must-see - the gory and glorious return of everyone's favourite zombie hack-a-thon, The Walking Dead.
With The Walking Dead, RTE Two, Friday, 9pm gearing up for its 100th comic book issue, it's difficult to fully assess just how much of a pop culture phenomenon Robert Kirkman's series has become. Next Friday's second series premiere for example, hit a staggering 9 million viewers when aired in the US, scoring record-breaking records for a cable broadcast in the process.
At JOE we will admit to occasionally getting a little overexcited about various things - new Liam Neeson action movies, for instance, or the women's singles at Wimbledon - but in the case of an article in which we dubbed the first ever episode of The Walking Dead as one of TV's greatest debuts, we stand by such praise.
Yet after a curiously short first series became bogged down in melodrama, we weren't quite sure how to approach its second season, especially since showrunner Frank Darabont (director of The Shawshank Redemption) left the show, for reasons rumoured to be centred around a reduced budget and creative differences.
Yet as you will see on Friday, any such fears are completely unfounded, as we revisit Andrew Lincoln's sheriff deputy Rick Grimes and his ragtag group of survivors in an apocalyptic setting where people draw firearms at their fellow man just as easily as they would a shuffling zombie with a taste for their brains.
Without spoiling too much for what the episode has in store, you'll witness an army of zombies marching down in a freeway in numbers unlike anything we've ever seen from the show and an extremely tense scene in which a group of our survivors are hiding underneath a vehicle as they pass.
With production values on a par with most cinema releases, this is a new level of TV entertainment and you may want to replace your couch arm rests afterwards as you'll likely be gripping them furiously throughout.
With the new series having recently concluded in the US, we've been relieved to hear that fans of the show believe it to be a huge step up from the original, with greater set pieces, more gore and most crucially of all, the unravelling psyches of the show's protagonists, as the new world view brings out the primal instincts of some of our favourite characters.
While The Walking Dead can sometimes be a little too ponderous at times (perhaps Darabont had a point regarding the show's budget), it's admirable that the shows' focus is just on meaningless zombie hacking but the terrifying concept that your fellow survivors could be even more dangerous than what's lurking for you in the woods.
So next Friday night don't forget to pull the curtains, turn off the lights and allow the welcome return of The Walking Dead to scare you silly. Simply put, missing out would be a decision just as mindless as the show's iconic zombie "walkers".
TV Pick of the Week: The Walking Dead, RTE Two, Friday, 9pm
If The Walking Dead is perhaps a little too frightening for you then you'll be relieved to hear that your favourite programmes are available on UPC's new On Demand service which includes the RTE Player and 3Player, free to all UPC customers.